Sometimes, when chasing from home, I feel like Coyote running after some bands-runner activators.
This is an example:
I looked for Lukasz on 40m but couldn’t find him, then I saw he was just spotted on 20m, went there but didn’t hear any activity on the spotted frequency, so I went for LA9XGA/P, who was also spotted on 20m but on CW. It took me a few minutes to chase this activator and then went back to 14.290 looking for Lukasz @SQ9JTR, but I could hear nothing on the fequency. Then I saw that he was spotted on 15m only few minutes after his pass on 20m. When I was about to QSY to 15m, I found a new spot from Lukasz and he was now on 80m…
When an activator moves bands this fast, it’s very difficult for the chasers to have the time to follow and chase them.
Do any of you, chasers, ever feel like Coyote after the bands-runner?
Hmmmm. It’s a tough one. Typically I’ll spot on a band and call for 5 mins. If absolutely no one comes back in that time I’ll move on.
If I start getting contacts I’ll keep going until everyone is worked. If that’s just a few people it might be less than 10 mins. I’ll then call and wait three or four times and then move on to another band or go QRT.
The only exception is if I’m doing 2m only and I get stuck on 3 contacts. Then I’ll try for a bit longer.
Hhhmm, yes found this frustrating myself from time to time. However when activating on a cold windswept summit I have noticed how 3 mins of unanswered CQing can feel like 30 mins
I’ve had similar experiences!
I do find that some activators only call a few times and if no reply is heard they QSY to another band. They seem to forget that after seeing a spot chasers may have to change bands, perhaps change antennas, and tune up before looking for the activator, and may not see the spot straight away if they are chasing another activation at that time. I can understand activators being in a hurry if summit conditions are bad or they are short of time, but a few seem to make a habit of jumping around too quickly!
Hi Brian. I’m an activator only (well occasional chaser s2s!) and often think about this. Trying to balance time spent “calling into the wind” vs not missing out on a contact I might have made.
I usually give it 5 mins after I’ve seen my own spot actually come up on sotawatch. This is for a HF band, typically 60m or 40m. If no one comes back in that time I usually move on, assuming I’m not being heard.
This is based on my experience that normally if I am getting out OK the first chasers are usually on within 2 or 3 minutes, often in less than 30 seconds!
I’m genuinely interested to know if this is a “reasonable” time to wait for a 1st contact after a spot on a HF band?
Not withstanding the other usual constraints like weather and impending darkness.
I’d love to know what antenna @SQ9JTR was using to be able to switch so quickly between the bands as he did (it seems). I tend to only use 40 & 20m while activating but that will change now that the Solar Cycle will allow use of the higher HF bands again - but at the moment, the time and effort to take down the mast, switch the links and put it back up again means my time on each band is extended. I am lucky however that I often have several chasers calling and so I will often be on a band for 30 minutes before switching.
A point made by another respondant here however brings up a very valid point - when it’s cold and wet and windy on a summit, you don’t want to stay too long on the summit and if you’ve alerted for several bands, you want to get a call out on all of them, which can mean that by the time the spot has been entered, it has got through to a chaser, he or she has changed and re-tuned antennas you may already have bagged a couple of contacts and moved on to the next band. If the spot is not from the activator but from a chaser who has just finished working the activator, the chance that the activator may not be on the same band/mode anymore is greater.
I think only the activator can decide that. However, from the POV of a chaser, I can spend several minutes, sometimes more, in the pile up for an activation, and during that time other activations can get spotted - perhaps several of them at busy times. It becomes a matter of nice judgement whether to persist with a pileup or speculate on whether the new activations can be heard,bearing in mind that while I chase a new activation the pile-up that I invested time on may finish and the original activator could vanish. I tend to prioritise new unique summits, and if there are no uniques to chase I go for the higher scoring summits and/or favourite bands. You see, during those fruitless five minutes before you change bands there may be chasers waiting to get clear so that they may call you. At the same time, there may be chasers who have already looked for you and failed to hear you - even as reliable a band as 60m can have an off day! Basically, though, its all part of the fascination of SOTA! If contacts were certain they would be less fun.
I don’t know what he is using, but I can tell you that with a doublet or a W3EDP antenna and using a Z-match tuner bands can be changed in seconds with no need to go and change links.
Yep - probably some form of Off-Centre-Fed (OCF) antenna.
Merry Christmas all.
Aye. Activators using antennas where the only adjustment needed is at the feed point could change bands quickly, but when I’m activating it probably takes me at least two or three minutes to change bands because (usually) dipole links need changing. Having made the change, I’d usually give the band at least ten minutes, but I’m generally a laid-back fair-weather activator, so not in a hurry to be down and off to the next one.
When I’m actively chasing I figure it can take anything up to five minutes for me to see a spot and then get to the frequency, especially if an antenna swap or rotator angle needs changing. When there’s more than one potential chase, the others on the band and heading I’m presently working will usually get looked for first. Sometimes I’ll even scan nearby frequencies looking for as yet un-spotted activators rather than changing bands to chase a spot. I doubt I catch many activators who band-swap every few minutes…
When I’m activating, I try to think on the chasers and how it’s sometimes not possible to QSY right away as soon as the spot gets displayed on SOTAwatch, so I try to remain for 10 minutes minimum (preferably 15 minutes) CQing on a spotted frequency before going to some other frequency.
With an antenna tuner, it’s very easy to change bands, but sometimes, there are several activations spotted at about the same rush hour time and it’s difficult for some of the chasers to be ready to QSY and chase a new activation right away. Bear in mind that, sometimes, it may take 15-20 minutes to chase an activator because of the pileup size.
Of course, activator is king and he is the one to decide, but I think sometimes it’s better less bands with less rush than too many bands in such a big rush that almost no chasers have the chance to catch you.
Best 73 and Merry Xmas to all,
“However when activating on a cold windswept summit I have noticed how 3 mins of unanswered CQing can feel like 30 mins”
Yes. I was out in the cold (22F, -6 C) and wind yesterday. Thought I had been on the summit about an hour and it was less than 30 minutes!
Sometimes the conditions are also crazy and the band is closed in the qsb for long minutes and nothing can be heard.
I called CQ for a few minutes on 20m during one of my last activities and just nothing came back. I was not spotted by the RBN either. After a few minutes I switched to the 30 m band which was open.
As soon as I made the first 2 CQ calls, the RBN spot came … on 20 m !
Now I don’t know, did the connection from the RBN to the SOTA spots have a delay or was it due to my cell phone connection? - I then spotted myself on 30m and made some QSOs
At least @SQ9JTR spotted himself, so the QRG was at least right at that time.
And don’t forget to throw in 2 or 3 summits as well, just to confuse things.
I have been thinking about this and I too have come to conclusion that it might be down to the perception of the passage of time for the activator. When you are sitting on a cold wind swept summit you most likely want to get as many contacts as you can in as short a time as possible. Even if the weather is good, the urge is to make as many contacts as possible. Activations are often time limited and you need to finish by a certain time to perhaps get back to the car before dark or by a certain time to ensure that you are not late on the next summit. If you don’t make contacts within a minute or two, it can seem that you have been calling for much longer and there is the temptation to quickly move on. For this reason I try to note when I start on a band and give it a set period of time before changing band or mode. Sometimes it is not easy… listening to a seemingly empty band can be very frustrating!
If I’m doing a multiband activation, I try to add a comment on my spot saying when I will be changing band. I try to do 15 minute slots, although 15 minutes is a long time to call CQ from a hilltop with no answer! Thankfully this doesnt often happen.
Less than spectacular weather, a rush to activate more summits the same day and the desire to offer as many bands as you can for chasers is what makes me as an activator change bands too quickly. However, since replacing the LCD clock that broke, it is every so easy to check the time since last QSO / spot and ensure I spend at least 5 mins calling. But without the digits in front of me it’s simple to think you have been calling CQ for a long time and find it is only a minute or two.
From the activators perspective: Last activation on the 23rd of December:
Cold wind at about 60km/h, temp. at -2c. Huge pileup on 40m. Having an eye on the vertical that was in danger of falling due to the strong wing. No possibility where to fix the antenna. Checking now and than that no parts of a tree where falling.
In addition, taking care that the piece of log-paper will not fly away. This happened some time ago at DM/HE-001, where I had to chase some logs 70m down the hill.
Some impatient stations, while I was trying to pickup a readable signal through the whistle of the wind
Thank you for those making their transmissions readable by listening before sending.
Switched to 30m and then to 20m. Looked like the spots ran out. Tried to reactivate them, but the touchscreen of mobile was not working properly at those temperatures. 2-3 calls per band where not enough for RBN to pick up the signal. It felt like 15 minutes but was only 2-3 minutes. So stopped transmitting.
@Chasers: Thank you for your patient!
That’s a new definition of chaser log, Ingo😉
73, mx, Roman